New Wine (Part Two): When God Goes “Silent”

by Gabriella Isadora Spykerman

We’ve all been there before. The one sided conversation, the frustration of conversing with a wall. Be it in the quiet of the adoration room or in the most random moments of the day, we’ve all  had some rendition of the same thought: Jesus, why have you gone silent on me?

Silence: a powerful tool of peace in God’s arsenal. Yet, in the depths of our struggles, it becomes the thing that perpetuates fear, sin, and a sense of abandonment. Ultimately, silence becomes the deciding factor of a big choice, do we choose to trust in Him and His will? Or do we choose to walk away?

God goes beyond our understanding

Call it human nature or perhaps just plain distraction, silence isn’t a state that most of us are accustomed to, especially in the midst of our struggles. It may even become a full frontal denial of our innermost desire: the need to understand. When things don’t go our way or when the journey gets a little too tedious, we desire nothing more than to understand God’s hand in all of it – that need to know that our pain is going to be transformed into glorious ruins, that what we’re going through is not in vain and that God still has us safe in His hands.

Some of us might look for it in that small and gentle voice, that whisper in the gentle breeze that Elijah received (1 Kings 19:11-18). Others wish for a big booming voice that thunders through our pain. More often than not, in the difficult seasons of my life, I found myself responding to God’s silence with a plethora of questions and a thousand different ways to test Him. Some days I asked for a sign and other days, I demanded He do something to prove Himself to me. I like to think that we’ve all had our fair share of these tendencies – to ask, to demand, and in a sense, to conform God to the parameters of our own understanding.

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. – 1 Corinthians 13:12

However, it’s important to recognise that God does indeed go beyond our understanding. After all, He is our all-knowing, all-good, and almighty Creator. For now, we might be able to see, with prayer and patience, a glimmer of His great plans or gain a fractal of understanding. However, we were not made to fully understand on this earth, but in Heaven, when we meet Him face to face.

You’re not alone

I cry to you and you do not answer me; I stand, and you merely look at me. You have turned cruel to me; with the might of your hand you persecute me. You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it, and you toss me about in the roar of the storm. – Job 30:20-22.

It’s easy to fall into the trap that we are completely alone and devoid of God’s love, especially when it seems that God has nothing to say. Add our pride into the equation, and it becomes a slippery slope into the biggest lie of them all, I can do this by myself. We decide that our very beings have become more reliable than God, and that it’s easier to live our lives the way we want it, to let ourselves fix what has been broken. As the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley adequately puts it: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”

Our pride transforms our hearts of flesh into hearts of stone, and we fill our lives with whatever will help us fill the overwhelming silence. As I reflect on my own journey, I cannot count the number of times I have tried to fill the gaps with so many different means. Alcohol, lust, and so many other means, just to fill the void between myself and God.

However, I’ve come to realise that one of the most powerful truths to claim in times of desolation and silence is that God has not forsaken you. It’s a simple yet one of the most profound truths in this life. God has gone and continues to go before us in each and every moment of our lives. There is no such thing as abandonment for Him; there is only salvation, there is only Love.

Even Jesus had to face the crippling silence of God as He hung on the cross. As He cried out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (Matthew 27:46) He was met with no response. Yet out of His suffering and death, resurrection and new life, God carries us through every mountain and valley in our lives, and sees us to the very end.

Silence is God’s invitation to You

In his work, Invitation To Love, Thomas Keating writes: “God’s first language is silence. Everything else is a poor translation. In order to understand the language, we must be silent and rest with God.” Silence, beyond the struggles it may bring, is ultimately an invitation to dwell in Him and with Him. In the invitation to being silent with God, is the setting aside of our distractions, the many chaotic voices in our mind, and the revealing of what is once obscured.  As Fr Mike Schmitz puts it in The Value of Silence: “Silence is a great magnifying glass in our lives” – to see the things that we were once blinded to with clear and unobstructed vision, and to see with God and through God.

Above all, silence is the invitation to simply be with God – to rest, to allow Him to mend what has been broken, and most importantly, to surrender and allow Him to love you. Let this be a challenge for all of us – that we may embrace the silence of God in our lives, and in doing so, embrace His everlasting love!

 

About the author: Hello! My name is Gaby (centre) and I come from the community of SIM Catholic Society. When I’m not studying (read: procrastinating), I’m often thinking about the strangest things like what it’d be like if I were a whale. But then I remember that God created me to be more.

New Wine is a four-part series on sailing through the storms of life with Jesus, especially when it feels like He is fast asleep (Mark 4:38). When the weight of the world crushes our being and we feel abandoned by the Lord, we are invited to trust that He is truly breaking new ground and making new wine in our lives. We praise God for moving the hearts of four young people to courageously pen down their experiences walking through troubled times with the Lord. Their hope and ours is that you too may find safety and confidence in Jesus, our Emmanuel – God who is with us.

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You can watch Fr Mike’s video here:

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